Invoxia has added support for Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service to its acclaimed Triby connect kitchen speaker, making it the first non-Amazon device to add support for the voice assistant. Following the launch of its Echo voice controlled speaker last year, Amazon also debuted the Alexa Skills Kit, a free SDK allowing third-party developers to integrate the service into their devices, and Invoxia has now risen to the challenge and added Alexa support for all existing Triby owners via a software update. As per Invoxia’s support FAQ, Triby users will need to be running software version 10.35 or above and have the latest version (2.9) of the Triby iPhone app, available from the App Store. Once enabled through the iPhone app, an Alexa icon will appear in the top-left corner of Triby’s e-ink display, and users can simply call out “Alexa” to begin asking questions.
Apple has provided more detailed information for developers on how to take advantage of the new Apple Music API introduced in iOS 9.3. In a document titled Apple Music Best Practices for App Developers, Apple summarizes how third-party iOS apps can integrate with Apple Music, including some of its functionality in their apps. Specifically, the Apple Music API will allow develoePrs to directly control Apple Music playback as well as determining if a user is currently a member, determine which country the user’s account is based in, queueing up songs for playback, and reading playlists already in a user’s music library and creating new playlists with a title and description. Developers can also participate in the Apple Music Affiliate Program, earning a one-time commission if a user signs up for a paid Apple Music account using their app. A new section has also been added to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines specifying the limitations that developers should work in when using the API, such as such as requiring explicit user action for playback, exposing and respecting standard media controls, and not monetizing access to the Apple Music API through in-app purchases, advertising, or requesting user information.
Several apps have already been updated to take advantage of the new Apple Music API, most notably Shazam, which allows users to add discovered tracks to an Apple Music playlist directly from within the Shazam app. At this point, however, Apple has not yet taken any steps to note on highlight those apps on the App Store which provide Apple Music integration.
Apple has released an update to its Apple Music app for Android devices, adding support for watching music videos on Apple Music and signing up or upgrading to a Family Membership. Users who had already signed up to a Family Membership via an iOS device or iTunes on Mac or PC could use their account in the Android app, however this latest update means that new users can now sign-up for a new Family Membership, or upgrade their single-user account to a family plan from directly in the app. The Android version now also provides access to the music video content from the Apple Music catalog, including the ability to browse popular videos from the New section or search for music videos directly. Apple Music for Android was launched in beta last November, and recent upgrades since its initial launch have brought support for a home screen widget for controlling playback and the ability to store offline downloads onto an SD card. [via 9to5Mac]
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who took a large position in Apple three years ago, how now sold his stake over concerns with the company’s situation in China, CNBC reports. Speaking to CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Icahn stated that “We no longer have a position in Apple,” while adding that Apple is a “great company” and that he feels that CEO Tim Cook is still “doing a great job.”
Icahn cited China’s current attitude toward Apple as being the main incentive for him to exit his position, noting concerns that China’s government could “come in and make it very difficult” for Apple to do business there. The Chinese government can be capricious, as evidenced by its sudden turnaround on iTunes Movies and iBooks sales last week. Icahn added, however, that he would likely buy back into Apple if China “was basically steadied.” Icahn previously owned slightly under one percent of Apple’s outstanding shares, which have fallen over six percent this week following the company’s latest earnings call; Icahn said he made roughly $2 billion on Apple, and still touts the stock as “cheap” despite his reservations.
Apple has officially launched its new CareKit platform today, with four new apps available out of the gate, and more expected to come. Announced last month, CareKit is an extension of Apple’s HealthKit and ResearchKit initiatives, designed to better facilitate doctor-patient communication by allowing users to automatically share health information with care providers and loved ones. The new apps already available with CareKit support include Glow Nurture, Glow Baby, Start, and One Drop.
Schematics claiming to be of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 “Pro” have appeared in Japanese magazine Mac Fan, according to a new report by Mac Otakara. The leaked specs support many of rumoured details about the upcoming device, including the reports of a dual-camera system, body design similar to the iPhone 6s Plus, and elimination of the headphone jack. The MacFan report claims the new iPhone will actually measure in at 158.22mm tall by 77.94mm wide by 7.3mm thick — identical to the dimensions of the current iPhone 6s Plus.
A tweet from Nintendo America is teasing the release of more Nintendo games for the iOS platform, specifically mentioning Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing — versions of two existing Nintendo franchises.
A year ago, Nintendo announced that it would be moving into the mobile space, promising the release of one title this year — the company’s Miitomo social app — followed by four more games by March 2017. Mobile versions of Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing presumably account for two of these promised four apps, but details are scarce beyond the company’s tweet; it’s unclear whether these will be new mobile games that are loosely related to their respective franchises or full-fledged ports of the Nintendo Wii and DS counterparts.
The FBI has “provisionally” decided not to reveal the details of the method it used to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, Reuters reports. Anonymous sources reveal that the FBI plans to write to the White House within the next few days to explain that the agency cannot share the unlocking mechanism as it was provided by a third-party that retains the sole legal ownership to the method. Sources ”>reported previously that the FBI contractor that unlocked the iPhone was a foreign entity and since U.S. authorities were not provided with the details of the mechanism, the FBI could not share it even if the agency wanted to.
Despite this, however, Reuters reports that the FBI did warn Apple of an unrelated vulnerability in iOS and OS X on Apr. 14 — the first disclosure to Apple under the White House’s Vulnerabilities Equities Process — however Apple noted that the vulnerability that was disclosed involved older versions of both operating systems, identifying issues that have already been addressed nine months ago in the initial releases of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. The move suggests that the FBI’s disclosure may have been little more than a token effort to demonstrate good faith, however an unnamed Apple executive stated that the FBI’s disclosure “did nothing to change the company’s perception that the White House process is less effective than has been claimed.” While Apple declined to provide technical details, the company did state that about 80 percent of iPhones are running a safe version of the operating system, and Apple does not consider the flaw serious enough to issue a patch for the older operating system versions.
Kicking off Apple’s investor conference call following the company’s announcement of quarterly numbers for Q2 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported again that Apple sold 51 million iPhones, but noted that the numbers fell short of the iPhone sales in the year-ago quarter. Cook noted that iPhone sales remain healthy and strong in all purchase target markets, with slightly higher upgrades in the iPhone 6s cycle that are higher than in the iPhone 5s cycle two years ago, but slower than in the iPhone 6, which contributed to Apple’s sales a year ago. The Apple CEO also highlighted the fact that iPhone customers are very loyal with a 95 percent satisfaction rate, and indicated that Apple has added more switchers from other platforms in the past six months than in any other quarter ever, and that iPhone sales continue to be strong in emerging markets, such as India where iPhone sales are up 56% over a year ago.
Speaking to services revenue, Cook noted that services in the March quarter equalled $6 billion, with App Store revenue up 35 percent, beating last quarter’s all-time record, and Apple Music continuing to grow, reaching 13 million subscribers this quarter. As a result, Apple’s music revenue has now hit an inflection point after many quarters of decline. Cook reiterated Apple’s installed base of one billion devices, noting that they are an important recurring source of revenue, with the purchase value of services tied to devices reaching $9.9 billion in the March quarter, up 27 percent over last year, and accelerating from the December quarter. Apple Pay also continues to expand, following its successful launch in China and last week’s rollout in Singapore, growing the user base by more than five times, adding one million new users per week, and noting that over ten million contactless-ready locations are available in countries where Apple Pay has launched today, with 2.5 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the U.S.
Apple reported its second quarter 2016 financial results today, with 51.2 million iPhones and 10.2 million iPads sold. The company posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion, or $1.90 per diluted share. In Q2 2016, Apple had revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion, or $2.33 per diluted share. Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 40.8 percent a year ago. International sales contributed to 67 percent of this quarter’s revenue. For Q3 2016, Apple is providing guidance of revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion, and gross margin between 375 percent and 38 percent. Apple’s earnings call will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time, and can be heard live on the company’s investor website.
Logitech’s Logi BASE for the iPad Pro provides a new take on a tablet stand by charging the device through its Smart Connector. Until now the Smart Connector had only been used to connect Apple’s Smart keyboard to the device, but Logitech has capitalized on the new port to provide charging capabilities to both the 9.7” and 12.9” models.
India’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has mandated that all mobile phones include a “panic button” to be sold in the country as of January 1, 2017. On cheaper phones that will entail holding the “5” or “9” key to call emergency services, but the order’s wording for smartphones is a bit more convoluted, requiring the “facility of emergency call button by pressing the same for long time to invoke emergency call or the use of existing power on or off button, when short pressed thrice in quick succession.”
After its launch in retail stores last year, Apple has finally made its iPhone Upgrade Program available to those buying their iPhone online. After clicking the “Buy” option for an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the first screen of the checkout process includes the option to enroll in the program for $32.41 per month for a 16GB 6s or $36.58 per month with the 16GB 6s Plus. The price goes up as the storage options increase.
The father of a teen who was lost at sea said Apple is attempting to reactivate his son’s iPhone in the hopes of learning more about his fate, ABC News reports. The phone was found aboard the boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were on when they went missing. Blu Stephanos said, “We’ve been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months.”
Apple is endeavouring to add cellular capabilities to its next-generation Apple Watch, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. Citing people familiar with the matter, the next-generation wearable may include cellular connectivity and a faster processor. The WSJ report also highlights the struggles that Apple Watch has faced; despite the fact that sales of the Apple Watch outpaced the sales of the iPhone in the first year that device was released, many users have observed that the current iteration of the wearable is too slow, too limited, or simply not useful enough, with a limited ecosystem of applications. Similarities are drawn between the Apple Watch and the original iPhone, and even the original iPod, noting that each of those devices started small and took a few years to hit their stride.
The Department of Justice has dropped its appeal of a decision that prevented the government from forcing Apple to unlock a convicted drug dealer’s iPhone, Bloomberg reports. The DOJ had pledged to fight on after a judge ruled the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel Apple’s assistance was illegal, but dropped the case after obtaining the passcode to access the device from a third-party. That leaves a 50-page ruling supporting Apple’s view in the encryption dispute as the final word on the matter, and while that decision isn’t binding in other cases, it could still influence future court battles.
Apple has let developers know that starting June 1, apps designed for the Apple Watch will have to be native apps built with watchOS 2 SDK or later. The move makes a clean break with the non-native apps that initially launched with the Apple Watch, which made the Apple Watch seem like more of a second screen for the user’s paired iPhone instead of a device in its own right. Apps designed with the native SDK that launched with watchOS 2 have proven much faster and more responsive because they don’t rely on the iPhone for all of the required processing.
Only six months after Apple began selling iBooks and iTunes Movies in China, the company has now been ordered by a Chinese Government agency to shut down sales, The New York Times reports. Although Apple originally had the Chinese government’s approval to introduce the services, a government regulatory agency — the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television — stepped in last week and demanded the services be shut down. While Apple has been unusually successful in introducing new products into the Chinese market, this about-face could be a sign of future problems brewing in China, which is Apple’s second-largest market.
The FBI appears to have paid more than $1.3 million for the technique used to break into the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist, Reuters reports. When asked how much the purchase cost the agency, FBI director James Comey said, “More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure.” Using figures from the FBI and U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Reuters determined Comey will make more than $1.34 million in that time, if he receives no raises or bonuses — so it will likely be a bit more than that, if you’re considering typical annual government pay adjustments. Comey said the purchase was “worth it” while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in London. The FBI will be able to use the technique on other iPhone 5c models running iOS 9, though the agency already announced that no useful information was found on the San Bernardino iPhone.
Apple’s efforts to fix certain technical problems with iCloud and iTunes have been hampered by “political infighting” among two engineering teams in the company, The Information reports. One manager has already resigned from Apple, with more departures “expected soon.” Apple reportedly wishes to take the cloud infrastructure used in Siri and bring it to more of its services, some of which are within the realm of the iCloud team — iCloud engineers are said to be concerned about job security as the Siri infrastructure encroaches on their domain. Apple is also working to bring all of its iCloud infrastructure in house. [via 9to5Mac]